Interview with Rusty Anderson: May 12th, 2003
The interview was conducted via telephone on May 12th, 2003 by MACCA-Central's webmaster Mike Kovacich and l asted just over a half an hour. Rusty was still in Rome and Mike was at homebase in Canada. After working out some technical difficulties and introductions, Rusty anxiously started right into the interview about the previous night show in Rome to some 500,000 fans. I have the interview and transcript available below.
Listen to the Interview:
Mike: Well that's what were reporting on, every single concert, fanfeedback from actual fans that were there at every concert on the tour.
Rusty: Ah cool.
Mike: From a multitude of fans, pictures, what ever they can sneak in and official pictures from AP and so on and so forth. We got some pictures but not to many fan reports just yet, because we usually get those a few days after, but tell me about it!
Rusty: Well, it was ... I mean I really didn't know what I was in for because we played the night before inside the Colosseum, and there was about maybe 500 people or something there with chairs in front and people sort of like the high dollar charity types. Was beautiful inside because the whole back, the bulk of Colosseum was actually lights, it was lit up with the catacombs underneath where they stored the lions to eat the Christians and stuff. But the lighting was just beautiful and we did our set and it was very interesting and people really seemed to dig it. For us it was really different because it was a different set of songs you know more acoustic centric. Just a very different environment. The first outside gig actually. The sound was very stark, you know it was a lot at once you know. But that was cool and then last night, man, oh my God, I don't know how many people were there 300,000 or 500,000 I don't know.
Mike: I heard it was upwards to 500,000.
Rusty: Well it was insane. All I can say is that we were in the front of the Colosseum and it goes down as you know as far as we can see, and farther than I can see obviously, there were people and you can only tell until like 'Let It Be', they all stick their lighters up and you just went off om to like looking at the ends of the ocean or something.
Mike: What a feeling that must have been.
Rusty: Ah, and I found out later that the actually had on the street sections where they had placed screen and more PA and more PA and screens, more PA and screens, so it was all timed. Sounds like an engineering feat to me.
Mike: I saw a couple pictures of that, screen after screen, after screen. I thought that was really interesting but they actually timed it for the sound delay?
Rusty: So thats what they have to do cause sound and sight travel different speeds. So, any concert you go to you get different delay between things, you know visuals depending on where your sitting in the room and all that. Ya, it was amazing people on the walls on the sides, people everywhere it was such a good vibe and the band was so charged up. It was really a special feeling.
Mike: I caught the show in the early stages in Toronto for the Driving USA and in Cleveland for Back in the US but unfortunately couldn't make any European gigs.
Rusty: Yeah, well that's a long way to go.
Mike: You mentioned the acoustic set, can you point out a few tunes that were done?
Rusty: For one thing we did Volarie, an Italian thing . . . you know that song?
Mike sings: Volaire, woh oh".
Rusty: Yeah exactly, and we ah, did All Things Must Pass by George Harrision. A little softer kind of vibe because it was a sitdown kind of thing. We did Things We Said Today. A little short set more tailored to a softer kind of vibe cause it was more of sitdown type thing, you know.
Mike: On the website we of course report on everything related to the tour, and a weeks back there was a controversy or such on the Pope wanting to sleep and that heavy rocker songs might disturbing so we put a Fan Poll together and the fans were voting, Well what Beatle songs and what Paul solo songs would you like see replace for some of Paul's rockers. Could you quickly say if there was any songs replaced for the second show.
Rusty: I think it was all just a crazy rumor.
Mike: It was.
Rusty: Yeah, It had nothing to do with any reality. I think it was like someone's thought but ah ... yeah.
Mike: There was talk Live and Let Die was being removed.
Rusty: Oh yeah, you know we didn't do Live and Let Die, we didn't do Maybe I'm Amazed, we didn't do Coming Up, but actually haven't been doing that one anyways. The list slightly mutates as it goes along.
Mike: Which is cool a different CD coming out Back in the World CD that has a slight variations. Do you know if another is coming out?
Rusty: I don't know, I can't keep up with all this stuff. I know they were filming last night, doing some filming this and that. there always recording, I think it's kind of like as Paul checks out what we've got and sort of makes decisions along on the way, you know that's what he does. Always making decisions like that.
Mike: One of the fans request, and it's one of my personal ones as well to, 'About You', I would love to hear that song live.
Rusty: Yeah, that's a great song I agree. I agree I've always liked it. I mean it's an interesting song because it sort of a, it's got that sort of album track vibe you know it's not like oh this is the single. But it's a real special song because it has that real signature McCartney kinda rock song you know.
Mike: It does it has that catchy thing, and I think it would have been a great single to come from that album.
Rusty: Well, me too, but that's for the McCartney people, but you know that was the first song we ever recorded together. And it's funny 'cause I played bass on it then over dubbed guitar on it later.
Rusty: Well, me too, but that's for the McCartney people, but you know that was the first song we really recorded together.
Mike: That was the first ? Rusty: And it's funny 'cause I played bass on it and over dubbed guitar on it later.
Mike: That's interesting to know, I'll have to add that to track notes on the song. That's the kind of thing as a musician myself . . .
Rusty: What do you play ?
Mike: Bass, a little guitar, keyboards.
Rusty: Oh cool.
Mike: In fact one of my questions to you is that your familiar with midi sequencing ?
Rusty: Yes of course.
Mike: I sequenced the Freedom and I tell ya, I really learned to respect for your guitar work trying to emulate the live version of Freedom on keyboards and transcribing. Your guitar playing is similar to the method Paul's sings vocals differently each verse, each chorus so it's not the same, different inflections.
Mike: And your guitar work is not the same little lick or the same little thing it's alway different now does that just come from you or do you purposely put that distinction ...
Rusty: You have to realize I've been playing guitar since I was 8 and have been very, very focused on it for a long time. I've been through my phases of getting into jazz or classical or whatever and I not so heavily into all that right at the moment and I've did a fair amount of guitar teaching. I just I don't play that way, people I'm inspired by. I guess what it is actually is also that I've done so many records playing on different people records and stuff. The reason that I got into that and I think that I started getting work in that way was that people rely on you when your a studio guy to come up with hooks.
Rusty: You know I'm always searching for hooks. It's just out of a habit it I'm always like look "But what if I did this", It's like a constant experiment and then I start to realize I think a lot of people have been doing, like Hendrix. Not comparing myself to Hendrix but Paul and all these people that have always inspired me I think is that in your head your always writing melodies and writing little two note melodies or doing like low chord hooks you know something your trying to like basically make good music in opposed to just power chording along or just have a very specific formula that you always stick to it's nice to try to pull something out from where ever you get it. Wherever people get a melody or lyric or whatever from to try access that.
Mike: To try and tap in that.
Rusty: That's the joy of playing live, making music, to me. Even it's a tiny subtle thing or it's a little change from night to night.
Mike: The Beatles changed the world in many ways, who if anyone plays that role now ?
Rusty: Oh God, I'm the wrong person to ask. I sort of feel there is era's in music. You know when the Beatles were happening they went through a few different era's. There was the Mersey Beat thing, there was the sort of British invasion folky thing, there was the you know psychedelic thing, there was that semi earthy country influence post psychedelic thing. You know what I mean there was the glamour rock, thing the disco, new wave punk and techno, all these things. I think there's these different people sum up each, whether it's the Police or whoever summing up each era and right now the era we're in seems to based on technology. Lots of techno lots of people infusing stuff I mean the fact that anyone can burn a CD, you know websites... it's just so technology oriented. And I think, you know what the answer to that is ? A machine. Whatever the latest machine is, is the answer to all our prayers according to the public. Not that I feel that way 'cause I think it's pretty sad but I guess it's something we have to go through.
Mike: Yes well the public something else. What the music stations will play and what the public will buy, my goodness it's good to see some good music still coming out from all the crap out there.
Rusty: You are from Canada ha ?
Rusty: Yeah cause when you said 'ABOAT'
Mike: Yes, we right on the border about 20 miles from Buffalo.
Rusty: but you sound basically like an American. But ah, yeah so in Canada the country code is "1" right ?
Mike: The area code is 1 yes.
Rusty: Yeah I think the machine is basically the mistral of this era.
Mike: When I decided to invest in a mini home studio it was a tremendous amount of pleasure to be able to sit down and record this track that track, hey geez, that's me.
Rusty: Oh it's great, that's the seductive nature of it all. Oh I've got a cell phone on the beach, great. I can do it all and not have to depend on anybody to get my music together, oh great. But the truth is, is that when you get people together you get a much better result. That's my opinion. I mean you can have the greatest techno music in the world and there a lot of incredibly, what's the word, unique and experimental and ground breaking music has come from machines and from technology in a way that people interface with it. So I'm not condemning it all but, you know I'm insulted to listen to it most of the time because I don't want to listen to a machine. I want to listen to people playing music. I wanna feel the flesh touching the strings and the sticks and vocals, you know what I mean. I mean not that I don't use Pro Tools and all that stuff cause I would be a hypocrite to say that, cause I do. You know it's like oh that's a great bit there instead of this one so I'll copy that and cut and paste it over here and now this chorus sounds as good as that one. You know and everybody does that shit.
Mike: Well, Abe certainly does hit those sticks doesn't he ?
Rusty: laughs, yeah, yeah, he's a great guy to be with real wild, we have great time. We've been really really enjoying hanging out together. The whole band has.
Mike: Do you think Brian and Abe becoming part of that core group?
Rusty: What core group is that?
Mike: Some of the session work that you do.
Rusty: Abe has been doing a lot of stuff, Brian has been doing stuff off and on and yeah it's a small world man you know and definitely the session sort of thing is a smallish world too. And though it shouldn't be it all people making music hopefully good music and it's I just love working with human beings, and it's always more fun for me.
Mike: I understand you have a CD coming out.
Rusty: Speaking of my new CD that's what I always enjoy the combination of doing things myself and being able to kind of going where I want to go and writing and bla, bla, bla and at the same time I've always been a band guy. I've always felt bands are where it's at. That's the reason I love the Beatles is because you didn't feel an ego like one guy it wasn't like Englebert Humperdink or whoever. The band thing supplies the chemistry where everyone donates something to the whole and you feel this group of minds and hormones and musical expressions and everyone is like a different antenna for some aspect. When I was working on my thing I almost feel like I had different little groups of people I was working with. Maybe in the way Beatles almost felt on the White Album or something. Like switching around. Like Parthenon Huxley who is someone we've done work together on various times in the past and he's a good and I respect his artistic talents and we did some work together and then, Abe played on some stuff and the band, you know Paul played on the one track with the band and David Kahne produced it. I worked with another friend of mine Paul Plagins who is a brilliant songwriter and we were in a band together briefly for a couple years called Peal. So he did some stuff with me. It was a group effort but still I was able to be at the helm of all the decisions and the main songwriter and all that stuff.
Mike: So your the main songwriter and the lead singer.
Mike: That was one of the other comments, the fans had was the harmonies that you do on tour are just amazing and can't wait to hear your lead vocal.
Rusty: Oh cool, yeah hopefully they'll like it.
Mike: I'm sure Corinne will let us know when the CD is available.
Rusty: Still working on it. The problem is that I'm been trying to mixes from the road and that's really hard because I thought I'd have it done but I didn't quit get it done before leaving so there is some business stuff and little mixing stuff. Now there is only three weeks left in the tour so probably just get it out soon as I can.
Mike: Fell free so send some samples.
Rusty: Oh I will definately
Mike: I believe the title is "Undressing Underwater", how many tracks are on it?
Rusty: Well that's also another thing, I'm not sure exactly how many tracks will be on it, but I will let you know when I know.
Mike: How did you come up with the title?
Rusty: I was on the road a few years back with a band called Edna Swap and we went one those little funky fairs so you stumble upon an organ or something. We got a second to kill, so were driving around the country in this van and we stop at this fair and there was a flee market there amongst the old ladies with white hair with hand painted saw blades and all that crazy stuff. There was this boyscout handbook I bought from the early sixties. It had all these crazy things in it like if you get a snake bite, helping ady across the road, whatever, and then it had a whole section on things to do underwater, you know playing tag and this and that and they had undressing underwater. I just that was the most bizzare thing that they would put that in there like an instruction manual.
Mike: Interesting. On the tour do you find much time to come up with something and maybe lay something down.
Rusty: It's not an impossible, I've done a little bit here and there but it's really, you gotta be anti-social, and you gotta be on speed or something to do . . . because,
Mike: To keep up with Paul.
Rusty: Well you know I do this in writing. Lots of times you know the way I'll write music or write a song is you know I'll have, I'll just write some lyrics, write in my journal or whatever and then I'll go through them later and put music to it. So I do try to do some writing here and there, write down my dreams, whatever and use that for a future ammunition.
Mike: Do you ever kick yourself for not doing that after you came up with a good little bit and not writing it down because you thought it was good at the time.
Rusty: Yeah you get some idea in the middle of the night and no, I'll remember it tomorrow of course you won't and you never do. You know especially sometimes I feel like I have youngtimers decease or something, feel spacey. You know pretty floating music in the air you sort of just grab onto some, and I've just started to just recently realizing lately again that you work a song together. Sometimes you have a real good idea and sometimes you don't and it takes that energy even if you have good idea to get it into the point of a complete song. Or sometimes you might start off with a mediocre idea but then it will turn into something. It's an interesting process, the creation of music. Different everytime and different for everybody.
Mike: Did you and the band ever discuss naming the band.
Rusty: We've thrown around some pet names just for fun. One was Showcaser, I thought it kind of tickled me because the whole aspiration of the group is to showcase. Another one was WoodHoney, but there all stupid names we just throw around.
Mike: I think you already answered this but, for you, what is the most memorable concert on the tour?
Rusty: Well I've had a few, last night was really unique. The thing is this whole thing for me is moving at the speed of light, the rest of my life was like a snails pace compared to this. So since we've been doing the touring and everything we've basically did the record back, over a couple of years ago now and then was some time when there was a lot of vagueness and we were not sure what was going on and then September 11th happened and after we ended up doing it for the Concert for New York and then we took some time off and then we started the tour next early fall I guess and since then we've been going crazy, been flying. Obviously aside from last night being so close proximity wise to my brain right now, I mean it just happened, it was pretty stunning. Especially seeing the lighter in Let it Be and Yesterday going all the way back, back, back, back, to the point where you couldn't see anymore, it was really touching, it was very emotional and really great. Copenhagen was fantastic, there was a real good energy there. Tokyo was very memorable, the Tokyo Dome we did some cool gigs there and the soccer was great. Mexico was really loud, crazy loud, the audience there was really, really great. I remember the first time we played Chicago, on the first leg, that was really exiting. That was the first time you really felt the thunderous footstomping feeling in the audience. I know that sometimes I'll have a gig where I feel like I'm really present and everybody's my friend, and these great people on stage I'm playing with, my friends and the audience is great and I'm feeling good. I feel like everything is easy and in charge and those gigs I remember there was one in Manchester like that, there really run. And then you have the kind where you walk on the stage and "Ah look at all the people, AH". All of a sunden your like standing on this stage, it's like a culture shock.
Mike: And then you look to your left and realize who your standing beside.
Rusty: Yeah, exactly it all those things. I guess I'm starting to get used to it now as anybody would. You do gig after gig after gig, hang out and take plane trips together all the time and do all sorts of stuff together. You know it's a bonding experience, I mean that's one thing I have to say it's almost then sort of a like a boot camp for ...
Mike: Besides Paul who else would you prefer or wish to collaborate, to perform or record with.
Rusty: Aside from Paul?
Mike: Meaning who you aspire to play with. Rusty: Well that's an interesting question. I mean there's a lot of fantastic musicians all over the world. It's funny there's people who seek people out like a heat seeking missile or something and you know I want him . . . and the funny thing is that although the Beatles were my first exposure to music and my very first record I ever bought was Help, I got when I was a kid. So the Beatles started the whole process and then I got really into the Who, Hendrix and all that, tons of bands you know had millions of influences. But I never tried to meet a Beatle, I never tried to play with a Beatle and here I am and it's like I feel really, really, really fortunate and lucky but it just kind of happened you know. So I try not to judge it too much. And that sort of the way I've lived my life and I think most people do, you meet someone, you get a good vibe and you want to jam with them, you wanna play. I mean there's obviously great people that have influenced me over the years, David Bowie or Sting or whoever. The guys in Radiohead, I love the Flaming Lips, there fantastic. And Beck and the White Stripes, there's a lot of great acts out there that I'd love to jam with or play with. I tend to let it happen organically. I was talking to Bob Geldof last night and that was a pleasure and he's great guy. However it organically unfolds is fine for me.
Mike: It looks like the doors are open even more for you.
Rusty: Yeah, it seems so right. It been sort of a worldwind situation because of the scheudule. It's been nice, it hasn't been brutal at all, I don't mean to say that it's been very pleasureable. But it is while your on tour it's hard to do a whole lot else cause your always on that leash of having to meet a deadline and pack or get to the next show, you have your priorities.
Mike: The professionalism that you have to conduct yourself, yes. Some things we've been getting back from fans is that yourself, Abe, Brian, have been very accessible to fans signing autographs and it is very much appreciated by the fans. There is talk of a studio album coming I'm guessing in the fall.
Rusty: That's what Paul says yeah, he's kinda feeling that. Until something is done don't assume it's for sure but that's what word is so far. Were all looking forward to that of course a nice break before then is cool to. So yeah my main thing during the break I'm just gonna be working on my stuff trying to get my solo stuff together.
Mike: Do you plan to do any live performances to promote your CD ?
Rusty: I'd love to, I don't know I'm not really focused on that yet although it is kind of on the back of my mind depending on availablity and all that kind of stuff. I have some of my core favourite musicians people it would be really fun, be really great. The answer to that one is I really don't know.
Mike: It's too early obviously.
Rusty: It's all fantastic but let's face it who wouldn't want to have an outlet for your music and who wouldn't want to have people that appreciate what you do who are receptive. It's great signing autographs. It's a wierd world because of the media the way it focuses on one incident or one thing and you know even like the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, it's amazing on how powerful the media is these days. Incredible and so it's sort of funny how it throws everything into a wierd proportion especially television.
Mike: According to my clock it's a minute after 10 my time.
Rusty: Yeah I think I'd better get going here. Yeah if you have any other questions or anything at all call Corinne.
Mike: All right.
Rusty: If you need to contact me for anything, I'm happy if you need to do more interviews or whatever you know.
Mike: Can you do a little sound byte for MACCA-Central.
Rusty: Hey there this is MACCA-Central and this is Rusty Anderson with Paul McCartney.
Mike: Wonderful. Some quick fan comments from some fans so to swell your head a little bit.
Mike: "I saw the tour the tour I love it would cry if Paul did another and Rusty left the band."
Mike: "He makes all the music so much more exciting. I was a true believer 2 minutes into seeing him play with Paul in the Concert for New York. The distinct moment was when he absolutely just nailed the solo for "I'm Down", I had goose bumps, that dude can play."
Rusty: That was cool.
Mike: That was from a girl.
Mike: This one's from Steve - "My 2nd fave Rusty moment is when I saw him last April in Cleveland, and right after his AWESOME Back in the USSR solo, he ran in tight little circles while playing the high part of the song on the last verse....he's got so much stage presence and he truly is having a great time", "It's clear that this band makes Pual very very happy........and that's important to all of his fans!!! Also....let him know that he could ever get Macca to play About You", He also mentions his wife wants a date with you and that's alright with him.
Rusty: Wow, geez that guy is really, open.
Mike: We've got some questions on guitars and gear.
Rusty: Also definately put this on the thing I have a website, (www.rustyanderson.com) so go there you can get notes to me, check out things like that, if there a bunch of questions, some notes on my gear.
Mike: We've got the link there and fans go to it.
Rusty: OK, I've gotta run, Mike, it's been a pleasure and talk to you soon.
Mike: Well thank you very much and we'll talk again in the future as you get closer to the CD release.
Mike: Have a good balance of the tour and thank you very much for this opportunity.
Rusty: Thanks Brother.
Mike: Take Care.